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Staff Pick: Margaret Thatcher The Woman Within

Name: Nurshahafiqah Binti Asli
Book: Margaret Thatcher – The Woman Within
Author: Andrew Thomson
Publisher: W H Allen & Co
Publication Year: 1989
Book Language: English

Puan Nurshahafiqah Asli with her Staff Pick

The pressures and responsibilities of modern-day leadership are greater than ever before, and yet Margaret Thatcher displayed a stamina that has enabled her not only to survive, but also to thrive at the top of the political ladder for the last ten years. Author Andrew Thomson worked closely with Mrs Thatcher for six years as agent of her constituency in Finchley, North London, and feels that she was misunderstood as a person by the public. In this book, he splits the reality of his experience from that of the Iron Lady image developed by the media, and reveals a remarkable woman within. He has seen how the political Margaret Thatcher can be as tough as steel and unyielding yet the personal Margaret Thatcher was sensitive and thoughtful, with a hesitancy and uncertainty which could never be glimpsed in public.

The legacy of her childhood as a grocer’s daughter and her role as a wife and mother dominated her thinking, both in 10 Downing Street and in her dealings with everyone she met. She had a warmth and compassion which is all the more genuine for not being worn on her sleeve, and a real interest in people. On a visit to a factory, she would listen to the views of a worker with the same interest and respect that she would have for a Cabinet Minister and with a keenness and memory that recalled the smallest detail eighteen months later.

Margaret Thatcher herself believed that her success was helped, not hindered, by her womanhood. In 1975, the year she became Conservative Party Leader, she said, ‘In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.’

In this book, Andrew Thomson takes the reader on a tour of the Thatcher years, through elections, the Falklands and beyond, describing Mrs Thatcher in her different roles: Prime Minister; Member of Parliament; wife; mother; woman. This book is unique because it is written by an insider – a witness to the human elements of the Iron Lady.

Margaret Thatcher was the towering figure of late-twentieth-century British politics. Beginning with her upbringing in Grantham, the author tells us of her entry into Parliament. Rising through the ranks of this man’s world, she led the Conservative Party to victory in 1979, becoming Britain’s first female Prime Minister to lead a major Western power in modern times. Hard-driving and hardheaded, she led her Conservative Party to three straight election wins and held office for 11 years — May 1979 to November 1990 — longer than any other British politician in the 20th century.

In my opinion, she epitomized the term, “Iron Lady”. She was an extraordinary woman with a fantastic amount of energy and stamina! Her days were filled with meetings and tasks as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a Member of Parliament at Finchley, a Conservative Party member, and also as a wife and mother. On top of that, she had the rare ability to simply switch off from being a politician to see to her family responsibilities.

However, there were challenges to being this strong woman that went against type. According to the author, Margaret Thatcher seemed to possess a loneliness that was not just the loneliness of power but also a deep, personal loneliness as well. As busy as her days were – and trust me, ‘busy’ was an understatement – the hectic schedule could not fill in the loneliness.

There are many lessons to be learned from Mrs. Thatcher’s personal and work ethics. I also greatly admired her strength of character. This is an insightful book by Mr. Andrew Thomson, one that provides readers with a glimpse of the woman behind the Iron Lady.

“As mother and politician, Margaret Thatcher has set out clearly her views on motherhood and the family. By devoting herself to the twins until they were of school age, then establishing her Finchley family, she behaved in deed much in line with the words she expressed on the subject to the Conservative Women in London in May 1988. It was no new-found philosophy she expressed, but it represents so much of what she always believed about women and their families. We support the right of women to choose our own lives for ourselves. If women wish to be lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, we should have the same opportunities as men. More and more we do. In the last yen years, the number of women becoming solicitors has doubled. The number of doctors graduating is up by over 50 percent and the number of women becoming chartered accountants has increased threefold. But many women wish to devote themselves mainly to raising a family and running a home. And we should have that choice too. Very few jobs can compare in long-term importance and satisfaction with that of housewife and mother. For the family is building block of society. It is a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure centre, a place of refuge and a place of rest. It encompasses the whole of society. It fashions our beliefs. It is the preparation for the rest of our life, and women run it.” – Denis, Mark and Carol, Page 119

“She is often asked what is the secret of these achievements. She replies: ‘It’s really quite simple. What we have done is to re-establish at the heart of British politics a handful of simple truths.’ Then she lists the three principals ‘simple truths. First, that the defeat of inflation is always the priority. Second, that the people need the incentive that comes from keeping more of what they earn. And third, that as people earn more, they must be allowed to own more, through shares and homes. It really is that simple.”
Achievements, page 213

This book is available at the Perdana Library. If you are interested in reading or borrowing the book, please visit our Library here at Putrajaya, or contact us 03-88858961 (Library Counter).